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Podcast Snippet: The Traveling Vegan's Dilemma

Updated: Apr 27

Partial transcript from episode: Fellow Vegan Travelers, Lend Me Your Bag!

I have recently run into a dilemma that I'm sure some of my fellow born-again eaters can relate to - How to maintain a healthful plant-based diet while traveling. I mean, it is not always easy.

A company that I work for part -time requires that I travel about eight to 10 days or so a month. I'm usually on a plane. I'm headed to a work site for a day. Then I'm headed back home again the next day. And sometimes it's a two-leg trip where I have to visit sites in another city. So that increases the challenge of finding vegan eats in airports and at hotels. The other issue for me is that normally I'm taking Uber for ground transportation. So unfortunately, there's not really a good option to stop at a grocery store to pick up healthy foods unless I want to pay an arm and a leg, you know, for the extra Uber fare.

The other issue that I have found is cost in capital letters. On my last trip, I ordered Uber Eats from Noodles and Company for dinner. I was in the hotel and I ended up spending nearly $30 for some simple noodles with veggies. I mean, it was crazy. So even though my company, I mean, they do provide meal stipends, but they're really pretty limited for someone who has special dietary needs and can't just order a pizza and cheesy bread. And as we all know, on a plant-based diet, it's always easier to prepare your own food. I mean, even though many hotel restaurants and even, you know, just regular restaurants have one or two vegetarian options nowadays, more often than not, they include cheese or some kind of dairy, you know, in their toppings or in their sauces. I mean, I've tried to order risotto without Parmesan in it. It's nearly impossible.

So I remember one time I ordered a house salad and specifically told them, this was through room service at the hotel restaurant, I specifically told them no cheese or eggs, I'm vegan. When it arrived, I was starving, so my starving tummy was really upset when I discovered a bowl full of iceberg lettuce, a few tomatoes, and it had a feta cheese tossed into it. So another time there were no vegetarian options on the menu, I ended up ordering two sides of mixed vegetables and a plate of French fries. I'm pretty sure those veggies had been cooked in butter, even though I told them I was vegan. So, you know, not exactly a well -balanced meal.

And I have really kind of resigned myself to packing my own take -along food. And this is where you have to get creative. I mean, I hate checking bags. I try to do everything with carry -on, as most people do these days. And unless you're going to pay an extra $25 to $35 and check a bag with a pantry of food inside, there is a real need to become proficient at tucking healthful meals into your carry-ons. But last week, I was out four days with a trip from D .C. to Phoenix and then up to Connecticut. I had two carry-on bags, very limited clothing, some work supplies, you know, my laptop, basic toiletries, my bags were stuffed, and it was because of the food I was trying to take along. So what do you do in those situations? I mean, I've really given this a lot of thought since becoming vegan because it is essential for me to be able to maintain a healthful diet while I'm traveling.

I have decided to make it my mission to seek out every dehydrated food option that can tuck easily into my travel packing and doesn't require a cold pack for refrigeration. I mean, now keep in mind, you can carry non -liquid refrigerated food on board a plane, but if your cold packs have begun to thaw at all, TSA will not allow them through without following their 3 -1 -1 rule. So to me, worrying about ice packs melting is just one more added stressor that I don't need while traveling, so I avoid packing anything that needs to stay cold.


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